Churches in Zambia and southern Africa are rejoicing after Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was declared the winner of the bitterly contested Aug. 12 presidential election.
On Aug 16, Zambian President Edgar Lungu officially conceded to Hakainde Hichilema following his landslide election victory, CNN reported.
After initially indicating he may challenge the result, Lungu addressed the nation on Monday saying: "Based on the revelations issued at final results, I will comply with the constitutional provisions for a peaceful transition of power.
This will be Zambia's third transfer of power to an opposition candidate, cementing its place as one of Africa's most democratic countries, despite the widespread fears ahead of this closely fought election.
It was Hichilema's sixth attempt at winning the presidency and his supporters have been celebrating on the streets of the capital, Lusaka.
Rev. Emmanuel Chikoya general secretary Council of Churches in Zambia joined the nation in congratulating the president-lect.
"The council takes note with great appreciation the fact that the outgoing president Dr. Edgar C. Lungu conceded defeat and respected the will of the people, therein facilitating a peaceful transition into the new government, as would be expected under our national constitution," said the CCZ.
"We acknowledge that President Lungu has done his part and ran his race, and it is now time for another leader to carry on.
The CCZ commended all the political parties that took part in the elections "entrenching Zambia's growing democracy anchored in the principle of one Zambia one Nation."
"We nevertheless remind all political parties and the civil society not only to work with the government of the day but especially play the critical role in providing relevant and much needed checks and balances to the new government.
"In the process of doing so, we urge all to avoid the temptation of offering blind support or unwarranted criticism. In a growing democracy like ours, there is need for strong and vibrant opposition political parties and active as well as a very vibrant civil society."
The council called on civil society organizations, religious leaders and traditional leaders, not to compromise their core mandate to speak and defend the rights of the citizens under the pretext of working with the government of the day.
"Church leaders especially have a God given mandate to be custodians of peace and unity, and to be the voice of the voiceless and promoters of accountable governance. It also requires them to speak truth to power and not offering blind loyalty."
The General Secretaries of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA), also sent congratulations to the churches and people of Zambia on their successful elections.
"The nation went into the 2021 election facing massive socioeconomic challenges, ballooning external debt and the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people's lives, and with high levels of fragmentation.
"As has been a common trend in African general elections, politically motivated violence showed its ugly face during the campaign period with reported cases of isolated violence and even loss of lives in some places."
They said the Fellowship of Christian Churches in Southern Africa noted with gratitude that this 7th general election in Zambian recorded one the highest voter turnouts in the Zambian multi-party elections (over 80% of registered voters).